Caring for your ageing parents
Caring for ageing or elderly parents can be challenging but extremely rewarding. Here are some tips on how to care for them well, and ensure they're happy and healthy for as long as possible.
As your parents age, it is likely they will start to require some extra care and support so that they can maintain good quality of life and stay safe and well.
One of the best things you can do is to visit and check in on them regularly! Frequent medical check-ups are always a good idea, too.
Here are eight more things you can do to make sure your ageing parents are being well cared for.
First and foremost, ensure you know where to turn if and when you need a helping hand caring for your ageing parents. There’s a huge amount of support out there! From government funding, support groups, volunteer networks, through to community programs and local social groups – help isn’t far away if you know where to look!
A great first step is to ensure you register your parent/s with My Aged Care, the gateway to any subsidised aged care support in Australia. From here, you can request an assessment for your parents to learn which aged care programs they might be eligible for. This could be:
Contact your local council to ask about any social or community groups in the area that might be suitable for your loved one to try out. Connecting with others is a great way for them to stay active and participate in their own community, which has been shown to reduce stress, depression and may even prevent dementia!
Joining online support groups can also be a fantastic source of information and inspiration. Join CareAbout’s community group here.
Making sure your parents’ wishes will be carried out if they fall ill or are no longer to make decisions themselves, is vital. An Advance Care Plan allows your parent to outline all of the things they want to happen and how they’d prefer to be cared for.
Too many families find themselves in situations where they need to make important decisions quickly, and are unsure what it is their loved one would want them to do. Living Wills and Advance Care Plans can take away additional anxiety around decision making and planning.
Modifying your parents’ home to make it more accessible and easy to navigate can help your parent to stay safe and reduce their risk of falls. If your parent has been approved for either the Commonwealth Home Support Program, or for a Home Care Package, modifications to their home may be included.
Not all home modifications have to be major renovations. Modifying a home can be as simple as installing a grab rail in a bathroom, or tidying up a garden path that poses a trip hazard.
A key to ageing well and being able to stay at home safely is maintaining good strength and mobility. Having strong muscles and a healthy cardiovascular system play a big role in your parents’ quality of life – and it can help them to live longer.
Don’t stop! The tricky thing with strength and exercise is that if you slow down or stop, it’s really hard to get going again. Try and make sure your loved one is doing some sort of exercise each and every day (but not overdoing it!). If they have pain or mobility issues preventing them from doing so, try and enlist the help of a physiotherapist or medical practitioner. Hydrotherapy is a fantastic option for older adults who find it difficult and painful to exercise.
Performing what were once simple and easy tasks can become difficult for older adults. This can be a real source of frustration, embarrassment and anxiety. Something like opening a can or jar of food becomes impossible for someone who has reduced strength or painful arthritis.
Thankfully, there are lots of helpful aids on the market that can assist with daily household tasks. Many of them are inexpensive and easy to find, so it’s a good idea to grab a few different options for your parents. Make sure you show them how to use them, too!
Many older parents are stoic and don’t always like to admit that they need help, so rather than wait for your parents to mention it or ask, be proactive and try to anticipate what might help them with their daily tasks.
A growing number of older adults and their families are turning towards personal alarms as a way to improve their safety and bring about peace of mind to their loved ones.
Personal alarms are devices that can be worn on the wrist like a watch or around the neck as a pendant. There are many different types with varying functions, however the most common features are that they monitor movement, falls, heart rate and activity. If the device detects a fall or a sudden change in vitals, emergency services (and family members) can be alerted immediately.
They’re not for everyone, but if you are concerned about your parent and think that they are at risk of falls, or they live alone and are vulnerable, it may be a good tool to consider.
Over the years of one’s life, it is common to accumulate a lot of possessions. In many cases, people who are in their retirement years tend to have a lot of stuff! If this sounds like your parents, it might be a good idea to convince them to let you do a big spring clean.
Having lots of things in and around the home can become dangerous. Items can be tripped on, knocked over, or run into, causing injury. Clearing spaces and ensuring any walkways and passages are free of clutter will help your parents to move around their home without any extra difficulties.
Is it possible your loved one has a hoarding disorder? Read through these tips on how to help someone who is hoarding.
If you’re spending a lot of your time caring for loved ones, it’s really important that you’re taking some time out for yourself as well. A worn out and stressed carer probably isn’t a great help to anyone – it’s not good for you and it’s not good for the person or people you’re caring for.
Ask for help from other family members so that you can have a break, or look into respite care which is often subsidised by the government. The government also provides financial support for carers.
If you are well-rested, relaxed and motivated, your carer duties will be a lot easier and the person you’re caring for will certainly notice the difference and feel even more loved and cared for.
Our team of expert Care Advisers can help point you in the right direction! Whether it’s applying for Home Care funding, or choosing a quality Home Care provider, we’re here to guide you.